Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: Boise Young Professionals at work on city’s future

Nick Souba
Nick Souba

City elections are quickly approaching. As a citizen and a member of the Boise Young Professionals (BYP), following the races is a favorite fall interest. Civic duty goes beyond showing up at the closest elementary school. Studying the candidates’ accomplishments and community involvement is the baseline necessity; participating in the questioning directly is above and beyond. One voice sometimes overlooked in this important discussion is that of our young professionals.

This is why congratulations are due to the Idaho Statesman. Rather than publishing an endorsement of one candidate or another, the editorial team assembled a broad panel of readers to better represent Boise as a whole. This panel was not made up of a homogenous population, but rather of young professionals, a retired government spokesperson, the CEO of a nonprofit, an academic and a real estate agent; all hard-working people in our community. Participation in this level of civic engagement is a testament to the individuals as well as the organizations they represent.

Three members of BYP’s leadership team — Sophie Sestero, Heather Kimmett and Shelley Bennett — were independently nominated by separate community members for the panel. A fourth BYP member, Angie Nelson, is an existing citizen member of the Statesman’s editorial board and was also involved. Having four BYP members engaged in the mayoral election process is an honor and speaks well to the level of professionalism and community involvement they have achieved. It also demonstrates how active participation in professional programs creates an engaged, educated and connected generation of young people.

BYP’s mission is to develop and retain a talented workforce by connecting, empowering and engaging young professionals. Opportunities such as the Idaho Statesman’s panel help achieve this goal and are a benefit for the entire community.

The numbers show us that Boise has one of the highest in-migration rates in the country. People 20 to 34 make up 45 percent of those moving into the city. National trends show millennials are active in their communities and passionate about civic engagement. Since its creation 10 years ago, BYP has raised and donated $31,000 to local nonprofits, volunteered 2,500 hours and helped fill 30 board vacancies.

Community engagement helped prepare BYP representatives for participation in something as significant as the mayoral candidate panel in our capital city. Involvement in volunteer projects, professional development trainings and collaboration with other young professionals to create a more engaged population bolsters the community.

BYP members have access to city leadership through events such as the Mayor’s Roundtable. They receive training on how to join a nonprofit board through programs such as B|On Board. Members volunteer for different organizations every month. The Community & Civic Engagement team hosts events such as the City Council Candidate Forum, which provides a chance for Boise’s young professionals to engage the candidates. Mentoring programs and speaker series create the opportunity to connect with a different generation of city leaders in both the public and private sectors, bridging the gaps between age and industry.

Professional organizations are important. BYP functions as a way for young professionals to connect to the city and other professionals, and to better themselves through a variety of programs, events and trainings. Something as significant as participation in a panel hosted by the most widely circulated newspaper in the state is worth celebrating and sharing. Congratulations to our BYP members for representing the younger generations so well.

Nick Souba is director of Boise Young Professionals.